Understanding sitting days


Sitting pattern and program

The Assembly determines its own schedule for sittings. Towards the end of each sitting year, the Assembly agrees on sitting dates for the following year. This is known as the sitting pattern.

The Assembly sits for approximately 14 scheduled weeks each year, usually on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Sitting is from 10:00am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 6:30pm (finishing times can vary).

The sitting program is the order of business, set out by the standing orders, establishes which items will be debated.

Plain text version of sitting program

Time

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

10am

Prayer or reflection

Prayer or reflection

Prayer or reflection

 

Petitions

Petitions

Petitions

 

Ministerial statements

Executive business – notices and orders of the day

Private members business – notices and orders of the day

Ministerial statements

Executive notices of intention to present bills

Assembly business

Executive members’ business – notices and orders of the day

Executive business – notices and orders of the day

12:30pm

Lunch suspension

Lunch suspension

Lunch suspension

2:30pm

Question Time

Question time

Question time

 

Presentation of papers

Ministerial statements

Presentation of papers

Ministerial statements

Private members business – notices and orders of the day

Presentation of papers

Ministerial statements

 

Matter of public importance (if submitted)

 

Matter of public importance (if submitted)

 

Executive business – notices and orders of the day

 

Executive business – notices and orders of the day

6pm

Adjournment debate

Adjournment debate

Adjournment debate

Prayer or reflection

The first sitting day of a sitting period begins with the Speaker acknowledging that the Assembly is meeting on the lands of the traditional custodians, followed by a prayer or reflection. Members are then asked to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the ACT.

Presentation of petitions

A petition is a document requesting that the Assembly take action on a particular matter. There are rules, set out in the standing orders, about the content and presentation of petitions.

Petitions can be lodged on paper, or electronically through the e-petitions platform. For more information visit the e-petitions page.

Ministerial statements

Ministerial statements are an opportunity for the government to inform the Assembly and the community of its policies on a wide range of matters.

Presentation of bills and debate

A bill is a proposed law. It must be presented to the Assembly, debated, and agreed to before it becomes a law. Often members agree with the bill but would like to change it in some way. Changes are called amendments. Bills can be presented by government ministers (executive business), an executive member (executive members’ business) or non-executive members (private members’ business).

Executive business

Executive business is business introduced by a minister. It usually relates to bills.

Executive members’ business

Executive members’ business enables a crossbench member, who is also a minister, to present business as a private member.

Private members’ business

Private members’ business allows all other members, who are not ministers, to present business to the Assembly. Every Wednesday is for private members’ business in the Assembly.

Assembly business

Assembly business allows for:

Question time

Question time is an opportunity for all members to ask about government actions and for ministers to respond. Members have the opportunity to ask questions of the executive without any warning of the content of the question (a question without notice). Questions must relate to an issue for which the minister has an official responsibility.

During question time, there is also an opportunity to ask follow-up, or supplementary, questions. Supplementary questions must be relevant to the initial question.

There is a two minute time limit for answers during question time.

For more information, check out the question time fact-sheet.

Presentation of papers

During presentation of papers, documents may be presented by either ministers or the Speaker. These could be reports, discussion papers or subordinate legislation. The Assembly may take note of a paper, or, alternatively, it can be referred to a committee for investigation, allowing non-government members to review issues connected with the paper in more detail.

Matters of public importance

Any member may propose a matter of public importance (MPI) to the Assembly for discussion. MPIs usually address an issue that is considered to be of relevance or concern to the ACT community.

The Speaker selects the MPI for the day by drawing a topic from a hat.

All members have the option to speak on an MPI. Members of the opposition or crossbench will often raise an MPI to question the government’s performance and hold it to account. Similarly, government members will raise MPIs to highlight government achievements.

Adjournment debate

Adjournment debates are at the end of the sitting day. Members can make a speech on any subject.


Return to the resources page